By From Staff Reports

University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston medical students seeking to gain an edge with additional finance skills will now be able to earn a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Houston-Clear Lake while working on their medical doctorate beginning in 2016, officials said.

Executives and administrators from both universities unveiled the new program at a Dec. 11 ceremony at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

The MD-MBA program is geared toward medical students who wish to go on to private or group practice, health system administration or into the fields of biotechnology, health system management or entrepreneurship aspects of health care.

Both degrees can be accomplished in as little as five years, according to medical branch officials.

Students wishing to obtain their MD-MBA will be required to take a year off from their medical studies, preferably between their third and fourth year of medical school.

Students will not take courses concurrently. The MCAT will be used in place of the GRE for admissions.

“Some physicians decide they would like to have the added expertise that a business degree can provide,” Dr. Michael Ainsworth, vice dean for academic affairs at the medical branch, said. “It might be as simple as having a better sense of the financial aspects of the medical practice. It might be wanting to take a leadership role in a health system which requires more knowledge of finance.”

The MD-MBA program will begin accepting applications in January 2016 with courses starting later that summer.

“As a health science center, UTMB doesn’t offer these type of classes,” Ainsworth said. “We wanted to find someone to partner with and UH-Clear Lake is the closest and most appropriate partner. They have a very high-quality business curriculum so we felt it was only natural to work together.”

Dr. David L. Callender, president of the medical branch, said the agreement was a good fit for both institutions.

“We wanted our students to have an option to develop additional business skills that will complement their medical professional skills and better prepare them for leadership roles,” Callender said. “The students are the winners in this partnership.”

University of Houston-Clear Lake President William A. Staples liked the idea of partnering with UTMB from the start. It’s a familiar plan for University of Houston-Clear Lake, Staples says, referring to a similar program already in place with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The partnership also supports the university’s mission.

“As a student-centered, community-minded, partnership-oriented university, UH-Clear Lake looks for opportunities like this one that will strengthen the greater Galveston/Houston area,” said Staples, who reiterated what Ainsworth and Callender said about this partnership being a natural and appropriate one. “We consider UTMB to be a great asset to the region, and we are delighted to form this new mutually-beneficial partnership.”

The 54-credit-hour program offers medical students a chance to complete some of the MBA classes prior to beginning their medical school studies and to complete other classes in between their third and fourth year in medical school either online or at UH-Clear Lake, conveniently located only 35 miles north of UTMB.

“The MBA will give the future doctors the background they need to successfully run the business end of their practices,” Staples said. “We look forward to launching this program and welcoming the first cohort of students in 2016.”

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